Boys soccer relying on new defense to avenge last year’s state upset

photo by Aaron Wu

Last year, the boys soccer team created a season to remember, but finished on a sour note. They added to Head Coach Wayne Sutcliffe’s trophy case with another Colonial Valley Conference championship and Mercer County title. However, the Little Tigers finished 17–1–2, with their second loss coming when the they fell to Manalapan High School in an upset in the first round of the state tournament. The team has high hopes for this coming season and looks to build on what they accomplished last year.

“Our goal every year is to win the CVC and MCT’s, although the favorite is [The Pennington School]. The chemistry of this team, along with our skill, can add up to big wins and accomplishing our goals,” said Josh Nieman ’19.

The Little Tigers’ defense will be a key to their success this season. However, they lost a large majority of the defense from the 2016 season’s run. Nonetheless, they think that the newly minted, younger defense is going to be a strength this season once the chemistry amongst the players builds.

“The dynamic of the team’s defense is being switched up, and in order for that to work well, the defense will have to be very solid and alert,” Nieman said.

That defense will be led by 2016’s CVC defender-of-the-year Ian Jacobs ’18 and all CVC goalie and Captain Patrick Jacobs ’18. The twin duo is all that returns of last year’s starting defense.

This year’s Little Tiger team is led by Patrick Jacobs and Andrew Beamer ’18. Beamer walks into 2017 as a three-year starter with 14 goals and six assists. During his time on the team, he has helped the team win two CVC titles and a county championship, along with being named second team all CVC last year. Both he and Jacobs are well-decorated and experienced players.

Having a leader who can easily facilitate communication on the field is valuable to any team. Jacobs thinks he can bring that to the table and thus be a key to this team’s success this season.

“Being a physical and vocal presence in-goal instills confidence in the rest of the team, making them feel more comfortable during games. The key for me [for] leading this team during the season will be communication. I have the best view of the game as the last line of defense and I’m in a good position to communicate,” said Jacobs.

Beyond the two captains, the team has experience all over the field. Players such as Nieman, as well as Noam Davidov ’18, Remy Hebert ’18, and Sebastian Ratzan ’19 will all be looked upon to be big contributors on the field. Last year, Nieman and Ratzan combined for eight goals and eight assists, while Davidov was recently named one of the county’s players to watch this season by NJ.com.

This year’s squad is a unit of friends and long time teammates, which Beamer feels is a strong characteristic of the team.

“Well, the team is like one big friend group. We have all been in this program for  three to four years now. We all play club together [and] know each other [both] off the field and on the field. In my three years on varsity, I have not been on a team this close,” said Beamer.

Beamer thinks this is a valued asset for the team and  believes that it can award them some crucial wins, and help them achieve some of their ambitious but attainable goals.

“This team is dangerous, talented, and experienced, with just the right touch of youth. We hope to be playing in late October [in the playoffs] with the fans cheering us on saying, ‘Go Tigers!’” said Ratzan.

 

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